I n 1988, Boyd Eaton published “Stone Agers in the Fast Lane.” It was a call to return to a Paleolithic diet much higher in meat and animal products than eaten in the 1980s or even today. Now Kirk Hamilton has written Staying Healthy in the Fast Lane, a call to limit the dependence of Homo sapiens on animal foods. Both publications share a common theme: that the modern lifestyle is not in keeping with the requirements of human physiology. The evidence for this mismatch comes from the figures for obesity and diabetes now in evidence in Western nations, with diabetes alone at 8 to 9 percent in North America and predicted to double in the next twenty years. If this scenario holds true, we will see an increase in renal failure, blindness, and cardiovascular disease together with many cancers. For these reasons, public awareness must be stimulated, and much research undertaken, with translation of this knowledge to the public so that effective preventive strategies are put in place. Kirk’s focus has been to stem those lifestyle and dietary factors, which he sees as the problem in both industrialized and developing countries:
- Increased consumption of animals products
- Increased consumption of added fats and oils
- Increased consumption of added calorie sweeteners
- An increase in processed grains worldwide, with a decrease in developing countries of the percentage of calories from grains compared to other food calories
- A decrease in physical activity
The first diet rule in Kirk’s 9 Simple Steps to Optimal Health is for 90 percent or more of the diet to be unprocessed whole plant foods. The other 10 percent is optional as animal foods, but it is not necessary and not recommended as such. Kirk is clearly committed to plant-based nutrition as a major theme of the book—not only for chronic disease prevention and reversal but also for protection of the ecology of the planet for a world population approaching 7 billion people.
This book really started in the last quarter of my physician assistant training at U.C. Davis in 1983. One of our projects was to outline a book. I remember vaguely calling it Lifestyling. The concept of the book was about prevention of disease and staying well by having a good diet, exercising, and doing some stress reduction. Throughout my more than quarter-century of being a practicing PA (physician assistant), I have always been a nutrition research junkie. I have also written newsletters, given talks, done some radio, and have tried to practice what I preached by living a lifestyle that involves a lot of exercise, a pretty good diet, and reasonable attempts at stress reduction…well, two out of three isn’t too bad! Actually, I feel so blessed to have followed this path. If I hadn’t been working on those three key aspects of wellness all these years, I probably would have been in a whole lot of trouble health-wise by now, especially because of how much pressure and work I put on myself.
It had dawned on me by then that most of the patients I and most other health professionals saw really would not need to be seen if they effectively implemented good diet, exercise, and mindbody practices. Little did I know then that those three components—diet, exercise, and stress management—would turn into the TRIAD Wellness Program and the 9 Simple Steps to Optimal Health more than two decades later, and are the foundations for achieving the goal of this book…for you to be well and stay that way in the busy, modern world and use health professionals and related services minimally.
A type of autobiography about me: your basic middle-aged male who is right in the middle of that time when men get chronic diseases and are also very busy with a lot of self-inflicted pressure and self-worth issues—a prescription for health problems. In hindsight, there are several reasons why I didn’t start writing this book twenty-five years ago. But one became evident after I had received my first unsolicited AARP mailing as I approached fifty (now fifty-four). The reason the timing wasn’t right to create this book in my twenties or thirties was that I personally needed to be practicing these Staying Healthy principles for several decades in order to see and feel clearly their effects on my own life before sharing them confidently and passionately with the world.
It has become abundantly clear to me, all the scientific research aside, that living my very physically active lifestyle with a wholefood, plant-strong diet, along with my acceptable but not great attempts at stress reduction, are paying off. I firmly believe that had I not been led to nutrition and preventive medicine as a profession and had not lived this lifestyle, I would be in serious trouble with my health right now. That is why I know to the core of my being that the information in this book really works. The timing for me to write this book is perfect—for my own life, because of my experiences and where the world is now with the epidemic of chronic disease, rapid industrialization, and the expanding aging population. I promise you that if you work at these Staying Healthy principles consistently, good things will happen to enhance your vitality, slow your aging process, and reduce your risk of chronic disease.